Lego Build! Darth Vader

I made a decision this year, that each year I’ll do at least one extravagant Lego Build. Its my way of affirming:

  • My inner child matters
  • I am affluent and I can afford it

Turns out, the universe was in sync – for Christmas, I received an unasked-for Lego Darth Vader to build. 800 pieces! I set out to build it, but of course I had to timelapse it.

There were 5 stages, and I recorded all of them:

  • #1 excluded because all you see is my back.
  • #2 Nest camera, facing me and the model. I really liked the idea, so I upgraded …
  • #3 GoPro Timelapse at 0.5sec, 1080P. I felt my hand kinda got in the way, so I changed the angle
  • #4 GoPro Timelapse at 0.5sec, 1080P. It felt too slow, so I changed again
  • #5 GoPro TImelapse at 1sec, 4K.

I put them together in this video, which I’ve put on Youtube because that’s where everything else video goes. I’m thinking, the best angle and subject was #1 – you don’t see all the parts, you see the human and the model. But its not the best camera.

I think the next build, I’ll stick the GoPro where its Model + Human centered, and parts not necessarily in sight.

What I loved most about building it:

  • Wondering how the pieces were going to be used
  • Sorting and organizing the pieces
  • Admiring the novel ways they used pieces that I could not predict

Stuff not so great: Seemed there were a bunch of very custom pieces. Meh.

Crypto Taxes – Switching

First, apologies for folks who posted really good comments on one of my previous posts — been busy. I went from Grandparent-of-two to Grandparent-of-four, and they live with us, and … its amazing, but man its hard to get time to think. Mostly we’re taking care of the older two while mom recuperates from C-section and the newer two are integrated. #devops #fixitinprod

Earlier in the year, I made a decision – heck with Taxes, I’m going to investigate Crypto things. So I did – I investigated liquidity mining, and staking, and some other mining, and stuff and stuff. And now .. i’m paying the price (in time).

I used to use (no link). I ran into problems. Something as easy as importing ETH transactions from my Trezor – 34 entries. It shows a balance.

There is no balance. Using their data from their screen, in excel, added it up, NO FRICKING BALANCE. See here with Blockchain explorer. And their import from Binance.US – very broken.

I lost faith in them. So, I need to switch.

I’m trying out instead. Good news, they integrate well with various well known things. Bad news, lots of other stuff I have to do a lot of labor to get data over. Hence the checklist which I posted a screenshot of earlier. Pretty sure I’m going to leave “free tier” here shortly (5 wallet limit), but I suspect I’d have to do that with whatever I went to with the amount of experimentation I’ve done.

A particular pain: I was hoping I could connect to directly – but is serious about locking out anybody from the US. I can’t log in there anymore. Not even read-only. Bummer. Luckily, I DO trust the info in cointracking that I got from Binance. Just takes some reformatting.

And is all of this worth it? Well, for the experience – yes. However, my stint in Liquidity mining – Sure I got some returns, but the impermanent loss was made permanent. And Staking – its ongoing, but it feels like I’m gaining at exactly the loss-of-value-due-to-inflation rate of the currency (DFI). They promise something awesome when they do X Y Z in the next 2 months, I think I’ll probably pull the plug around Christmas, I don’t want to deal with the headache of reporting 2 transactions per day of staking rewards paid in the future. And I fear what Cardano’s upcoming liquidity contracts will do to DFI’s world.

Star Citizen: Delivery Missions

I’ve been obsessing with Star Citizen delivery missions. Video 1 and Video 2.

I thought maybe I could take two of them, and optimize my route. I was assuming that time spent going between planets was the longest. It might be, but just barely.

Upon examining video 2 in more detail (I didn’t have a recording of my own), I logged timestamps and made a pivot chart:

QT = Quantum Travel, TL = Takeoff/landing, WALK = using W key to Activate Limbs that Kick.

So even if a bunch of packages are at the same location, the effort of walking them to the ship may not be that much worse than doing a extra flight. But theoretically, what would the sort be?

  • Well, DESTINATION port MUST come after SOURCE port.
  • Put the same port together if you can (sometimes you have to visit it twice)
  • Group the planets together? One less QT hop

So I tried it – Here’s my work in progress –

From’s and To’ with package numbers, from 2 missions.

However, the game crashed on me, and I lost all the packages. So there’s a good reason to get done with a simple mission first without thinking too hard about it. Oh, and Planetary maps at this link:

Ok, I might be off to try Mining thanks to Intergalactic Lan Party’s awesome playlist!

Star Citizen, take my money!

I got a hankering to play Star Citizen and decided to jump in with $55. I very quickly upped my pledge to .. i don’t even know where I’m at so far. Probably $80. And its awesome.

Quick Myth: If you destroy your ship you are out real $. Reality: currently everybody has insurance until they release, and when they release, there will be in-game insurance per ship that you can buy. Just like Elite: don’t fly without insurance!

Quick Myth: Need a kick ass computer. Reality: My i7/gtx1070 from 3-4 years ago with 16G ram total, runs it about okay.

Quick Myth: Its full of bugs because its alpha. Reality: yes; but if you call an elevator and you see a black emptiness, DONT STEP IN IT.

What I’ve done so far:

  • Participate in a server-wide event which netted me almost 1/2 of a entry-level ship’s worth of in game money, while doing almost nothing other than fly around not knowing what to do. (The xenothreat thing over labor day weekend)
  • Try to land my ship at a settlement on the dark side of a planet. The light I saw was the door light not a city light, i rammed into the settlement instead. Boom + Tresspassing = Crimestat.
  • Served time in the penitentiary (14 minutes) for my crimestat. I did not try to escape.
  • Almost run out of fuel flying a ship rental to join some action. Luckily I checked before I got past the halfway mark and could jump back to get some gas.
  • Decide to trade in my first pledge ship for a better one (which has cargo space! And a bunk bed!)
  • Trying to take out my first bounty, got there too late and somebody else got him.
  • Trying to take out my first bounty, got jumped by a second bad guy. Ran away.
  • Try to descend upon a bounty target at full speed in an asteroid field. I could not dodge the asteroid that showed up in front of me. Boom.
  • Actually destroy a bounty myself with my gimpy hands.
  • Do my first cargo mission, turns out I picked the one where I visit an abandoned powered off station, float around debris in zero G, somebody destroys my ship while I’m in the station and I have to stash the box and suicide and come back and get it after I respawn.
  • EVA across a space station to get to the correct strut where I could turn in a delivery box to the right place.
  • Do a “pick up recycle waste from 3 stations” mission. Turns out I need to land closer, because I have to hoof it on foot to get into the buildings to pick up the salvage WITH MY BARE HANDS. 2nd and 3rd station, i got a bit closer in my landing.
  • Decide to upgrade my ship, find the websites which guide me to where the components can be bought, and try to go to Area 18 the big industrial complex plant … and could not find the space port. Had to go back up to look for it from afar, it was hidden behind some skyscrapers.
  • Forget to look at trade routes and missed some great trading opportunities.

This game is amazing. Its everything I dreamed Elite could be. And the ship power management and all that stuff.. its like, “super realistic” + “computer control to make it seem more like a game”, but if you want you can switch off the “Coupled” mode and go raw. Just like Elite.

3 play sessions in, cannot wait for the next one. I need to investigate using a joystick and learn more about gimballed weapons and power distribution.

Ordered a HNT Helium “People’s Network” Miner

Partly because I’m greedy, however, I stand to make maybe 50 cents a day on it .. payoff over 1-2 years at that rate. In order for it to make the bigger bucks, it needs another 2 HNT Miners within 350 meters to 2km away or so. Then the possible rewards jump up to $150/month. Maybe.

But its not just that. Its also – when I searched for a tracking dog collar, all of them had a $5/mo or so subscription for “data” for sending signals home via a cell tower. This particular network aims to cut that cost way down. But it needs people to have hotspots out there, and thus.. HNT Miners.

I want to get a sump pump that can tell me when it activates. I want a Tile that works everywhere for low cost and long battery life.
Their network is large enough now that Lime Scooters use them for tracking.

So, for just those reasons, I went ahead and invested in a Bobcat Miner. Except, maybe I got scammed? Pretty sure I went to the right URL, and my purchase experience matched those of people on YT. I ended up buying it with some ADA which I sold to get USDT. It has a 8-12 week lead time before it gets to me (once an block of orders is full, it gets manufactured then sent out). It was the fastest Miner I could get, unless I went for the more expensive Syncrhobit, which is $650.

Alas, I’ll not get the miner until after the first Halving, which happens August 1st. So the approx 0.5-0.7 HNT that I might get will go down to 0.25. maybe less if the number of hotspots goes way up. On the other hand, they’re moving to something called the validator network, which is offloading some stuff from Miners, which then takes all the HNT set aside for Consensus Groups, and gives that to Miners. So it might go up a bit.

And then also because of the halfing, the reduced supply might drive the price up as well.

Anyway. My plan is to get my one node up, and then see if i want to invest in a second node and see if I can talk a friend or relative into hosting it for a month. And if it brings in good $ (to both nodes), then … hey they can keep the node. The payoff time goes from 1 year down to 2 months or something like that, and then its just Latinum thereafter.

The internet bandwidth is not inconsequential. Its like 20G per month. Although that might go down when the validator nodes show up.

Kinda excited. I hope a decent dog collar using the Helium network shows up soon so I can justify my tinkering.

Hot attic office mining ETH

I have an attic office that gets pretty hot during summer. Not too crazy, its insulated, but it gets hot. I have my ethereum miner (T-Rex) set with “shutoff at 70c, don’t start again till 60C”. I get there, and its running for a bit then off for a while… I turn on the AC .. This is what happens: (see cover picture)

I find it interesting that the ambient temperature just needs to come down to 85F in order for it to work okay.

The actual console output. It cools down and heats up pretty fast.
This is what the mining pool sees of my contribution.

I can probably get a better rate if I vent the hot air out of the office… but that would require a bit of work. Hmm. Not too much work. I’m not going to run the A/C just for mining. That would eat into my … max $2.56/day in profits.

Estimated Profits. Mining Pool says more like $2.03 per day.

My First Tesla Mobile Service

It was a good experience.

I had my first Tesla Mobile Service Appointment!

Details of the appointment – later. More important is various topics I asked the person about. All of this is my memory, which is faulty, and to cover Teslaperson, I’ll even say my memory can be fillintheblankious.

Messaging – they switched to the Tesla app for messaging now apparently they did text messages before. Many people don’t have notifications turned on, and thus a disconnect.

Service Center in Louisville – not yet, but the numbers are definitely where they need to be to have one. The southern Indian lease thing didn’t happen, but they have a line on another place, but it will be next year before it opens due to current tenant exit and remodel. Currently 3 people working the Louisville market, all local.

Throughput / Backlog – Currently running about 3-4 days out for mobile service in Louisville. Don’t have a lot of Model Y parts in stock yet. If parts need to be ordered, they try to do it within 1-2 days of ticket open, and it takes up to 7 days to get the parts in.

Service Area – because in Louisville, both my work Blankenbaker and Home Pewee Valley are covered. They are out at Blankenbaker all the time.

Third party apps like ABRP etc – they’ve had a 3rd party app that tried to inject firmware code into the card, so no, not a good idea. If you have one that’s working and it doesn’t keep your car “alive” by pinging it all the time, yay for you.

Wipers – yes they replace wipers, its $__, but if you want you can order the wipers directly and watch the tutorial video on how to change it yourself

Rotate Tires – yes they can do that. $__. Faster/easier for one to take to (your preferred tire place)

Cabin Filter – yes they can do that. $__. Around here, once every year or two?

Recommended Service – 2 years flush brake fluid, 6 years flush coolant. You will not get a reminder, its in the service manual. Brake fluid is hydro-absorb-moisture-ic, so it gets funky over time.

Phone Charging Cables working or not working – Rear Seat USB-C Port Authentic Cable Only because Power Only; Front Seat USB-C Port, because Data and Power, most Cables Work. Power turns off when car goes to sleep.

If Console has problems, unplug Sentry stick and format that on a PC. Unpair phones, delete contacts. Fancy Emoji characters can cause problem.

Funky Color on Trim – Its the soap that’s being used (I go to a car wash). I found that if I applied a bit of moisture and rubbed my thumb over it, it comes right off.

Specific repair – Passenger Seat, one of the controls wasn’t working. Turns out the cable going into the servo motor was not plugged in all the way. Estimated cost: $107. Actual cost: $0. They also filled up the air in my tires and removed a piece of packing plastic that came with the car. The appt was scheduled 7:30-12:30, they showed up about 9am.

It was a good experience.

Driving Tesla LD with ABRP

First RoadTrip! Got vaccinated, visited mom. Used ABRP (A Better Route Planner). Learned some.

This is from my leg leaving Lexington heading towards Huntington. The Blue line is what it was expecting me to do – this is based on a 100% modifier to the speed limit (70mph). The Green dot and projection is where I was actually at and the estimated battery level at the next charger.

But, i had a bit o’ fun.. i went a wee bit faster.

A bit later

I ended up driving a bit more aggressively. A couple of things to note: The green tracking only was enabled once I got to this screen, and I think only while I stayed on it. (This is on my phone). How you drive has a huge impact on battery drain and range.

So, now I’m planning my return trip. I know more.

A) I can be comfortable bringing the bottom charge all the way down to 5%. I was afraid before of going below 20%. Now that I know i can very easily see where I’m going to end up at, i can lower that to 5%.

B) Faster speed = more drain = longer charging, thus there’s a point at which more speed does not equal more time gained. I’m going to play with that in a moment for the return trip.

C) Most of the Superchargers were at Sheetz Gas Stations, which were awesome. Fresh Decaf coffee, grapes, cheese, good bathrooms. Loved it. I have marked one (Lexington, VA) to avoid due to lack of amenities.

Planning the way back

100% of Posted Speed
105% of posted speed. 13 minutes saved.
110% of posted speed. It split the distance and added Lexington – 22+13 minutes instead of 43 minutes. (Its slower charging past 70% or so)
115% of posted speed. I would not do this. Too fast.
95% of posted speed – I probably would not do this either. Too slow.

My final version: This is going at 75 mph on 70 which is 107% –

The actual cost to me is $0, because at the moment, I have 633 free supercharger miles left from someone using my referral code to buy a Tesla. All because I was nice to them on reddit. yay!

The actual driving is amazing. I use Autopilot with assisted lane changes, so most of my interaction is choosing to speed up / slow down to get around people or let people in. The car does most of the driving. I mostly … sit in silence, listen to a podcast, sing, sing more, or talk on the phone, with hands on the wheel. And then the monotony is interrupted with a cute drive to find a supercharger, and some snack acquisition, and walking around a bit. Its nearly perfect.

I somewhat failed at gracefully HODLing Bitcoin

This bitcoin pump cycle caught me off guard. I’m Feeling pretty stupid at the moment; so it is important to process the underlying stuff.

a) Always look at the prices with a scale which starts with 0. Then it would have looked like this:

Scale at 0

Instead, what I saw was this, and then I pulled a trigger:

If I backtrack further, the other thing I’d say is: Don’t gamble with money that is “meant” for something else. I really need to pay off one particular credit card. However, the Bitcoin pump came around (i did not know about the halving cycle)… so I put whatever assets I had sitting around (which, mind you, I was NOT paying the CC with, but cushion for toys, more like) in .. and then it became very crucial to NOT DECREASE NOT TAKE A LOSS on that money. Truth be told, I wanted a guaranteed short term return, I was not ready for the long term HODL.

At first I was going to berate myself on “changing my mind” and selling then buying back in at a lower rate (retracement) or sometimes equivalent rate (it rebounded too fast!) because of the extra exchange fees and taxes I might be paying, but then I did the actual math — Looking at it in the long term, as long as all the tax rates are the same (Short term vs Long Term) – Sellng and buying on a retracement can be okay:

(link – also note that “What you get back” is after taxes are paid. Spreadsheet has many hidden lines. You just pay more taxes earlier in the latter case, but once all taxes are paid, its mostly exchange charges that get you. You probably have to have a retracement > 4 times the exchange rate for it to be worth it. )

I would write something in here about searching for the moving average that looks like it supports the price curve, basically getting a feel of the volatility — then making an internal rule, “I will sell when X dips below Moving Average Y for more than Z time units” – HOWEVER, that’s probably not in line with (a). Maybe it is. Do I really want to buy retracements? I just don’t want to miss the final top. When Do I knows its a final top? I don’t have an answer to that question yet. Maybe its just a “this is good enough” top.

And finally, the FOMO. I KNOW its happening. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to be the technical guy who KNEW it was happening AND MISSED it. I don’t want to look incompetent! to my imaginary audience who might be judging me. I judge myself. I judge how much my judge-o-meter is set at. I judge me judging my judge of my judgement.

(LPT: Take a failure, write a blog post about it, then it looks competent)

What is my goal? Financial Independence. Be more willing to take calculated risks rather than just running away and trying to be “safe” and then wonder why nothing happened.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Info

Dumping knowledge while I have it for my future self.

Where to buy it: Binance.Us, but it takes a long time to get verified. Much better trading tools – can do limit trades, stop limits, etc., I was already verified there so it was easier to get back in. Only does Market price trades at least at my level, there’s a Pro thing as well. If you are international, Binance is a good place to go. CEO seems very honest. Many exchanges:

Has it arrived: Yes, institutions and companies are getting into it, especially as Fiat currencies print money like crazy.

Why is it trustable: Its code, its decentralized, once the rules are set in place, they cannot be changed except by a truly majority vote of stake holders / miners (depending on your coin). Thus, it is not subject to the whims of a central authority to twiddle with the supply. Oh, and the code ensures stuff like money cannot be double spent, that once its done it cannot be un-done, etc. It does, however, require the Internet and electricity to function, so its not quite the same as Cash or Gold.

But isn’t it just made up? Yes, its as made up as the … German Papiermark or the US Dollar. There’s a consensus of human belief in its worth, and in that there is trust, and thus it exists.

How many people believe in it? 33 million or so right now, and now it includes folks like Square and PayPal and JP Morgan.

But there are so many of them? There are also many possible Social Networks, yet Facebook / Twitter seem to be “winning.” Somebody could clone Facebook, but unless you have the community buy in, you have not got anything. But you can have a cool set of features. But community may still not buy in. Similarly, the “winners” by Market Cap right now are these (; they all have “features”:

Bitcoin = original, most widespread. Super fixed supply, which will yield a mad scramble as Demand picks up. Now super hard to mine. May get Smart Contracts soon?

Ethereum (ETH) = easier to mine (I can mine it on my GTX1070), but going to transition over to “staking” soon. Can do smart contracts where you put code in with the value. Many many other coins use Ethereum (2.0, not classic which is ETC) as their “backbone”.

After that, you’re starting to pick and choose. XRP was a big hitter, but there are .. lawsuits and problems there, at least in the US.

Where to learn more: I’d recommend these Youtube channels: (very engaging entertaining host), or (much more bookish, slower pace of videos, but incredible research). There’s also Chicken Genius Singapore who touches on it a bit, but more focuses on Not Being a Donkey.

I want to mine something with my hardware: choose your video card and exchange of choice. Right now ETH works. Costs me 40 cents a day (140W), earns about $2.30 a day (at current exchange). Basically, the CPU heats my attic office during winter, I don’t have to run a heater as much. Summer probably a no-go for me.

Dealing with Taxes: In the US, you get to report everything, and you really need to use software to calculate that. Expect to spend $100 per fiscal year on that software, unless all you do is stay on one Exchange, in which case they may have reports you can download. I personally use, its not the easiest to use, but it supports API pulls from Coinbase and Binance and Trezor, so I’m good with that.

Hardware Wallet:  I got a Trezor; but reality, unless you get above say $10k in a exchange account, don’t bother. I no longer use my Trezor.

How to actually do Crypto: Don’t do what I did. Instead, Dollar cost average – a little bit per paycheck – into.. pick two or three that you think might be around long term. Do that for 3.5 years awaiting the Bitcoin Halfling .. – March 11 2024 .. and then think about exit strategies at that time, and the year or so after that. (Maybe – institutions may change the charts). Understand the Bitcoin / Altcoin pump cycle and “Altcoin Season” – – before you go putting money in Alt Coins. While your money is in Crypto, its not available for anything else unless you get a line of credit against it.

Next post may stay private, its about how I … screwed up, and lessons learned.